When Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons first debuted over the Blue Network on October 12, 1937, the show’s title accurately described Keen’s stock-in-trade; the “kindly old investigator” tracked down individuals who had mysteriously vanished, leaving behind their families, homes, jobs and other day-to-day activities. Keen (he never had a first name, unless it was “Peachy”) was assisted in these duties by an Irishman named Mike Clancy. Mike wasn’t much of a brainiac (the quote that comprises the title of this post was a semi-catchphrase that he seemed to use on the show every week) but he could use the necessary brawn when the situation called for it. Bennett Kilpack played kindly ol' Keen throughout most of the program’s run, as well as Philip Clarke and Arthur Hughes, while Jim Kelly took the role of Clancy. The series originally aired as a thrice-weekly fifteen-minute serial from 1937-43 (the show moved to CBS in 1942), providing more than ample time for Keen to solve even the most baffling of disappearances.
Beginning November 11, 1943, the program changed its format to that of a half-hour weekly offering—and though the title and theme song remained, Keen branched out into investigating murders.
If Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons sounds a little soap opera-ish, it’s because it originated from the “radio fiction factory” of Frank and Anne Hummert. (Frank received on-air credit for the writing, but the scripts were actually churned out by scribes like Lawrence Klee, Bob Shaw, Barbara Bates and Stedman Coles.) Mr. Keen“ employed all the stereotypes, heavy dialogue, and trite plotting of its daytime cousins” and “it appealed to a lowest common denominator.” So why is the show so popular with old-time radio fans today? Simple…it’s pretty doggone funny, in an unintentional sort of way.
Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons enjoyed a healthy eighteen-year stint over radio, ending its run not—as previously reported on this blog—on April 19, 1955 but on September 26 of that same year. Over the years, the series had a variety of sponsors: Bisodol, Kolynos toothpaste, Chesterfield cigarettes, American Chicle, etc., and there are nearly sixty broadcasts extant today for modern-day listeners to revel in. It’s ample evidence that not every show during the Golden Age of Radio was “golden”—but I gotta admit, it sure is fun.
OTRR Certification Information:Series Name: Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
Certification Status: OTRR Certified Accurate
Certification Date: May 9, 2010
Certification Version: Version 4.1
Number of CDs: 1
NOTE: Updated Release! (09-Jul-2010).
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
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Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
June 27, 2010 Subject:
Mr Tracer, Keener than Most Persons
I recall listening to Mr. Keen as a nine year old kid on Friday nights. I was allowed to stay up late and listen to the radio until I fell asleep. Mr. Keen came on first, followed by Mr. Camelon. Both detectives were a little soap opera in approach, both were armchair detectives (you tried to figure out who the murderer was before the climax) and both relied on plot elements instead of physical action. Although Mr. Keen was created to attract the male audience coming home in the late afternoon, its' soap opera origins were lampooned in a classic Bob and Ray sketch entitled Mr. Tracer, Keener than Most Persons
June 24, 2007 Subject:
The episode The Case Of Murder & The Revengful Ghost should be correctly dated 55-02-22.